Exposition of Ezekiel 34
A Job Description for a Pastor
by David R. Cox
KJV Ezekiel 34:1 And
the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 2
Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say
unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the
shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds
feed the flocks? 3 Ye
eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye
feed not the flock. 4
The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that
which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither
have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that
which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. 5
And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they
became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. 6
My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill:
yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did
search or seek after them.
This passage of scripture lays out the complaint of God against
these poor pastors of God's flock. They failed in their duty and charge before
God, and God rebukes them pointedly. In this passage of scripture we can outline
exactly what a pastor of God's people is supposed to do and what he should be
careful not to fall into. We must understand that although the Lord is rebuking
these pastors in terms of a shepherd and his flock (animals), the analogy is
exactly that of a spiritual leader of God's people (pastor of a church) and his
relationship with his people.
"Shepherds that do feed themselves!
should not the shepherds feed the flocks?" - The principle
job of the pastor is to feed the sheep. You cannot get around it. Any pastor
that does not dedicate time, energy, money, and attention to the teaching,
expositing, and preaching of God's word is simply not fulfilling his primary
duty. This means that if he does not know how to teach, preach, or exposit
Scripture, that this becomes the primary activity of the new or young pastor. He
MUST LEARN TO FEED, and to feed well the sheep. I personally have met pastors
that get their sermons together on Sunday morning in the hour during Sunday
School. Although they may think about it through the week, the point is that
"spiritual feeding" means a lot to the Lord. It means every word
spoken in the pulpit is extremely important, and the pastor should dedicate a
lot to making sure it is exactly what God wants said, not anything added to it,
nothing taken away from it, and nothing changed.
Revelation 22:18 For
I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book,
If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues
that are written in this book: 19
And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy,
God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy
city, and from the things which are written in this book.
This also means that the pastor must have a very clear
understanding of the passage he is talking about. This means studying it
thoroughly (in the original languages if at all possible) and seeing what others
have said about it in good, sound commentaries. Once that has been accomplished,
he must sit quietly and think about the message that God has for him and his
flock from that passage. This takes a lot of time. Moreover he must make sure
that his presentation does not contradict some other passage of Scripture. The
only way to do this is to read the entire Bible through regularly (meditating on
what he is reading) so that it can be at least familiar to him. All of this
takes time if the pastor is to do things correctly before the Lord. This is why
God does not indicate to us that pastors work secular jobs to support
themselves, and prepare 20 minutes or an hour for their sermons.
KJV Acts 20:20 And
how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have
shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, 27
For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the
counsel of God.
The pastor must declare all the counsel of God. He must pick a
passage for each opportunity, but overall he must hit the major doctrines and
principles of God. Some of the required things a pastor simply MUST make his
priority is teaching about what is the true salvation and what is not true
salvation (Roman Catholicism, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, or whatever is
current in his city with his people as far as false doctrine). He must also
teach and preach things that would rebuke his people of their particular sins.
He must teach the principle doctrines of Scripture, and he must teach his people
how to be holy (separation issues, principles of holiness, and church
discipline). He must also teach his people what the work and plan of God is as
far as God's people is concerned, and also how it is to be done. These issues
must not be given by fiat (just stated) but rather Scripture must be read and
exposited relating to each of these points. If Scripture does not convince in
an issue, it is better to leave it as a minor priority or omit that subject or
KJV Nehemiah 8:8
So they read in the book in the law of God
distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the
The method that God gives for pastors to feed their sheep and do
their work is through reading the Word of God, then explaining it so that the
people understand what God has said. There is no other way. Throughout
Scripture, writers and preachers and prophets appeal to what God has said in his
Holy Scriptures. We are not to change that methodology. This shows why
exposition of Scripture is so important for the preacher. He must have a second
nature in interpreting Scripture correctly. He must know what the Bible says,
and be able to accurately and clearly express it. He must understand and observe
the rules of interpretation that guide preachers to a correct exposition of
Feeding on the Word of God for
spiritual growth and reproduction. "Ye eat the
fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye
feed not the flock."
KJV 1 Corinthians 9:14
Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach
the gospel should live of the gospel.
Again, there is nothing wrong with a pastor who works of the
gospel to live of the gospel. This is biblical. But the point that God is
rebuking these pastors here is that they lived well from the sheep, in fact,
extremely well. And these men did not fulfill their part of doing a good job for
a good salary. They took liberties with the goods and property of the sheep, and
instead of reinvesting it into the needs and task he had to do, he lived in
luxury. Yet his primary objective of feeding the sheep he failed miserably in.
problems - "The diseased have ye
not strengthened" - “Diseased” means weak
from frenzied activity, pain, or twisting. These things wedge
themselves into our lives. Pastors strengthen spiritual lives weakened by
mindless activity and “Christianity is a list” mentalities by binding the
principles of the word of God to their lives. Each and every Christian must
know and understand the principles of God and apply them in his own life. The
idea of Christians obeying the list of do's and don'ts that the pastor gives
them each week is just wrong. They must be able to discern, and they must
wrestle with the hard issues of life through understanding and knowing the
Scriptures for themselves. We should also bring in here the element of prayer.
That is how we get spiritual strength, through spending time on our knees before
Counseling to confront sin
- "Neither have ye healed that which
was sick" Heal the sick – The
problem is the same but, but this fixes/cures the problem by mending (stitching
two things together, Word of God). The pastor must access the
problem in each of his sheep, and then go to the Word of God and bind scriptural
principles on that problem with that person. This is done through public
preaching and teaching, and also through private counseling. At times the pastor
can also prepare and give private Bible studies or home study courses that can
help. But the point is that the pastor MUST CONFRONT THE SINS OF HIS PEOPLE, and
RESOLVE THEM CORRECTLY (BIBLICALLY).
Comfort & consolation to
overcome demoralizing events
- "Neither have ye bound up that
which was broken" Binding up the
broken (burst) – Hard experiences
can cause a broken Christian life. The Pastor must pick up the pieces and bind
the word of God on him such that the sin damage done does not make the Christian
permanently useless and fruitless for Christ. For example a family loses a
child, or a husband or wife loses a spouse or parent. These things totally
destroy our lives at least for a while. The pastor must intervene with the
counsel of God so that the Christian does not get so bound up in his pain,
mourning, or misery that he becomes fruitless for God in his own spiritual life.
Return to God’s
focus of growth and reproduction
- "Neither have ye brought again that
which was driven away" Bring back the
driven away (those
pushed off from the group)
– Many things cause people to leave the church:
simple offenses by fellow Christians, church discipline on sin (theirs or
others) and even some actions by the pastor himself. The pastor is to seek those
that don’t come, to integrate them into a place of fruitfulness and labor in
the local church.
Focus on evangelism and reaching the
lost with the gospel - "Neither have ye sought
that which was lost" Bring the gospel to the lost, and the lost to
Christ - This is the main plan and work of God.
Anybody who minimizes the importance of this does not have a clue as to the mind
of God in the matter. This was the one thing that cost God the most dearest
thing in His life, the life and death of His Son, Jesus Christ. Simply put, the
main focus of the local church and the Christian is bringing others to Savior.
Moreover, it is binding on us that as churches and ministries we stress the
importance, necessity, and priority of EACH AND EVERY INDIVIDUAL CHRISTIAN TO
BE ABLE TO WITNESS HIS FAITH, AND TO BE DOING SO REGULARLY. This our goal as
a ministry is that every person in our church should both be saved, and they
should be able to lead somebody else to Christ. We should regularly review the
major different religions and cults acquainting our folk with how to deal with
them through Scriptures to lead them to Christ.
"But with force and with cruelty
have ye ruled them"
Very simply, the pastors that God criticized are those who refuse to take
upon themselves the biblical style of leadership, as found in
1 Peter 5:2-3
the flock of God which is among you, taking the
oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but
of a ready mind; 3 Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being
ensamples to the flock.
Willingly we take the oversight, and we are not as overlords (commanding
people by the force of our authority, like a dictator) but by our personal
example of our own life, we lead. That means simply, that Christians are
supposed to be like their church leaders, which are supposed to be like Jesus,
not God the Father.
The big difference between God's presentation of Himself in Jesus and the
Father, is that the Father is always represented as having "His Will", which is
the crux of everything. By God the Father's will, we define sin, we are saved by
submitting to God the Father's will (believe or accept or receive Jesus Christ
as you Savior), we minister according to God the Father's will, etc.
Jesus on the other hand is portrayed as the model or pattern by which we
should follow. Jesus put His own will aside and followed or submitted Himself to
God the Father's will. God the Son is portrayed for us in this manner to teach
us the biblical "style" of leadership, personal example. He did not do His own
will, but followed the master plan, the will of God the Father.
1 Corinthians 4:16
Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.
Paul could say to the Corinthians to "be imitators" of Paul himself. This is
not arrogance, but is simply the biblical style of leadership.
If a pastor takes an authoritarian style of leadership over his flock, then
can he really say, "be like me"? Ever put to dictators together in a room? Know
what happens? Soon one will leave or else they will be strangled each other so
that only one is left. Churches are no different. God rebukes men who rule His
flock in an authoritarian style of leadership. The pastor absolutely must stop
ordering people around, and show them what to do and how to do it by being the
first and best example of it.
In education there is a saying, "more is caught than taught". This is the
essence of this point. People will always be more like you are rather than be
like you say they should be.
"They were scattered, because there
is no shepherd"
Some people contend that pastors are unbiblical. This is the position of
groups such as the Brethren, some Bible churches, and some others (cults). This
is simply not what the Bible evidence portrays. God WANTS His
people to be under the watch care of a spiritual man of God. God laments the
situation of His people with no spiritual overseer.
But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with
compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep
having no shepherd.
These brethren have made an error in their analysis of the situation. The
office of pastor is not wrong, but the particular people in that office are
doing it in an unbiblical manner.
"They became meat to all the
beasts of the field, when they were scattered"
This is the actual situation of most of Christianity. People are easy prey to
the cults, the abusive preachers, the foolish. They do not organize themselves
into local churches for the purpose of completing God's perfect will, which is
involved in the "work of God".
"None did search or seek after
Spiritual watch care means somebody is an overseer over you. Hebrews
This means that somebody must give answer to God for your growth, your
standing before God, your spiritual knowledge, etc. This means that when
something goes wrong in your life and you get away from God, somebody will
notice, and that somebody has the spiritual call and responsibility from God to
go looking for you to restore you to the things of God.
Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; 8
As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely because my flock became a
prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was
no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds
fed themselves, and fed not my flock; 9
Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; 10
Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I
will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the
flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver
my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them.
The shepherd's number one priority, duty, activity is "feeding the flock",
which being taken as an analogy of spiritual feeding of God's people with the
Word of God. The highest criticism of God against the shepherds is that they
fail to feed the flock, but they gorge themselves instead. This speaks of
pastors that fail in their pastoral mission, but live well off of the flock.
For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my
sheep, and seek them out. 12
As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that
are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all
places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. 13
And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the
countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the
mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the
God desires that the sheep are "found", that means, that the sheep are
located and situated "in the flock". This means very simply that God's will
centers on Christians being identified and integrated into a local church
setting. A flock is an organized group of sheep. God's desire is that the people
of God gather, organize, and do what God wants the group to do. Simply put this
is the work of God.
I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel
shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat
pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. 15
I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord
GOD. 16 I
will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and
will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was
sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment.
Shepherds say that sheep do not reproduce nor produce good wool or milk if
they are scared, chased by predators, sick, or tired out from too much walking.
God desires that they are cared for properly, and this responsibility falls to
the pastor. He must "govern" (the Hebrew word for shepherd, ra'ah, means to
govern, to make executive decisions for a group. It is sometimes translated this
way in our English Bible).
Ezekiel 34:17 And
as for you, O my flock, thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I judge between
cattle and cattle, between the rams and the he goats. 18
Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good
pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures? and
to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet? 19
And as for my flock, they eat that which ye have trodden with your
feet; and they drink that which ye have fouled with your feet. 20
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD unto them; Behold, I, even I,
will judge between the fat cattle and between the lean cattle. 21
Because ye have thrust with side and with shoulder, and pushed all the
diseased with your horns, till ye have scattered them abroad; 22
Therefore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I
will judge between cattle and cattle. 23
And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my
servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd.
The picture here is that God is very mad at these "sheep" that
destroy things for everybody else. They eat what they want, but they make it
impossible for the rest to enjoy what God has provided for all. Those "sheep"
that attack and destroy the good God provides for all are going to receive
difficult treat from God sooner or later.